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Cultural Heritage

Cultural Heritage at Doughton ParkThe Blue Ridge Parkway is a ribbon of road that weaves through the region’s vibrant living traditions. From Cherokee life and agricultural history to Southern Appalachian crafts and music, the Parkway’s 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina offers many ways to explore rich traditions. 

The Parkway represents a “slice” of America, and each historic site or cabin is a snapshot of one time and one place. Cultural sites here represent about one hundred years – the early decades of the nineteenth century to the early decades of the twentieth century. Those who planned the Parkway and its scenic views thought that the most picturesque and quaint remnants of the past were the log cabins.

In a few places, the early designers removed larger houses and replaced them with smaller rough hewn cabins, complete with reflecting ponds. Although cabins were certainly here in the early days of mountain settlement, many were covered with siding and whitewashed before too many years.

It is also important to remember that there were more homes here in the past than we see today. At places like Rockcastle Gorge, Basin Cove, and the Peaks of Otter, communities of dozens of families lived and worked. Some lived in log houses, others in framed farm houses. In some cases, natural disasters such as the 1916 flood or the Chestnut blight devastated entire mountain communities.

As you visit the Parkway, the historic sites that capture your attention reveal many broad themes of Blue Ridge history. We hope you find stories that challenge you to think about the unique Appalachian culture, defined by arts, crafts, and music that persists in the region. The Cherokee culture that has populated the region and defined much of Appalachian history for thousands of years is preserved on the southern end of the Parkway and reflected in place names throughout the region.

According to some scholars, the herbal lore, basketry, and even some forms of dancing, so much a part of “traditional” Appalachian culture, have roots in the exchange of culture when Europeans and Native Americans met on the Appalachian frontier.

Perhaps the most important piece of advice is to slow down, listen, and take all of the stories you hear as part of the bigger Blue Ridge story. Together, these are stories that tell us of the richness and wealth of this ancient slice of America.

Visit the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area for more information about the region's rich cultural heritage.

Cherokee Cultural Heritage

Members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians honor and cultivate traditions which have guided and supported their culture for a thousand years. Balancing the modern world with these ancient traditions, the Cherokee welcome millions of visitors each year while stewarding the delicate mountain landscape that is their ancestral home

Music Heritage

Live concerts, festivals and cultural events celebrate the region’s rich musical heritage throughout the year. The Blue Ridge Music Center at Milepost 213 features instrument making, song writing history and concerts that showcase the region’s music traditions such as old-time, bluegrass, ballad singing, blues and sacred music.

Crafts Heritage

Communities along the Parkway’s 469 miles keep living craft traditions alive through a variety of galleries, shops, and events. The Folk Art Center at Milepost 382 is home of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, featuring regional crafts, live demonstrations, and special events.

Agricultural Heritage

For thousands of years, Native Americans cultivated the fertile valleys along the Parkway. European immigrants brought agricultural practices with them as they settled in the mountains, but soon adopted and refined many Cherokee crops and techniques. This blending of immigrant agricultural practices with Native American traditions created a distinctive agricultural heritage. Farmers’ markets, restaurants featuring locally grown food and cultural tours along the Parkway highlight the region’s agricultural heritage.  

Natural Heritage

 Along the Blue Ridge Parkway, you will find:

  • Some of the oldest mountains in the world
  • The highest mountain peak in the eastern United States (Mount Mitchell)
  • The oldest river in North America (New River)
  • The deepest gorge east of the Grand Canyon (Linville Gorge)
  • The highest waterfall east of the Rockies (Whitewater Falls)
  • Abundant biodiversity

Calendar

<< December 2014 >>
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The Polar Express™

Friday, December 19, 2014, 6:00 pm

Fashions for Evergreens

Friday, December 19, 2014, 7:00 am

Saturdays with St. Nickolas

Friday, December 19, 2014, 10:00 am

Common Threads: Five Influential Women and their Legacies

Friday, December 19, 2014, 10:00 am

An Eisenhower Christmas

Friday, December 19, 2014, 10:00 am

Blow your own holiday ornament

Friday, December 19, 2014, 11:00 am

The Polar Express

Friday, December 19, 2014, 5:00 pm

"Dickens of Christmas"

Friday, December 19, 2014, 6:00 pm

Christmas by Candlelight Tours

Friday, December 19, 2014, 6:30 pm

Old Fort Mountain Music

Friday, December 19, 2014, 7:00 pm

Woody's Original Mountain Music

Friday, December 19, 2014, 7:00 pm

Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl

Friday, December 19, 2014, 7:00 pm
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The Polar Express™

Saturday, December 20, 2014, 6:00 pm

Fashions for Evergreens

Saturday, December 20, 2014, 7:00 am

Saturdays with St. Nickolas

Saturday, December 20, 2014, 10:00 am

Common Threads: Five Influential Women and their Legacies

Saturday, December 20, 2014, 10:00 am

An Eisenhower Christmas

Saturday, December 20, 2014, 10:00 am

Blow your own holiday ornament

Saturday, December 20, 2014, 11:00 am

Winter Waterfowl Cruise

Saturday, December 20, 2014, 2:00 pm

Classic Car Cruise-In

Saturday, December 20, 2014, 3:00 pm

The Polar Express

Saturday, December 20, 2014, 5:00 pm

Candlelight Tours

Saturday, December 20, 2014, 5:30 pm

Christmas by Candlelight Tours

Saturday, December 20, 2014, 6:30 pm

Roanoke Ballet Theatre presents "The Magic Toy Shop"

Saturday, December 20, 2014, 7:00 pm

So You Want To Be An Astrophotographer?

Saturday, December 20, 2014, 8:00 pm
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The Polar Express™

Sunday, December 21, 2014, 6:00 pm

Fashions for Evergreens

Sunday, December 21, 2014, 7:00 am

Common Threads: Five Influential Women and their Legacies

Sunday, December 21, 2014, 10:00 am

An Eisenhower Christmas

Sunday, December 21, 2014, 10:00 am

Blow your own holiday ornament

Sunday, December 21, 2014, 11:00 am

Informal Jam on the Porch

Sunday, December 21, 2014, 2:00 pm

The Polar Express

Sunday, December 21, 2014, 5:00 pm
22

The Polar Express™

Monday, December 22, 2014, 6:00 pm

Fashions for Evergreens

Monday, December 22, 2014, 7:00 am

Common Threads: Five Influential Women and their Legacies

Monday, December 22, 2014, 10:00 am

An Eisenhower Christmas

Monday, December 22, 2014, 10:00 am

Blow your own holiday ornament

Monday, December 22, 2014, 11:00 am

The Polar Express

Monday, December 22, 2014, 5:00 pm
23

The Polar Express™

Tuesday, December 23, 2014, 6:00 pm

Fashions for Evergreens

Tuesday, December 23, 2014, 7:00 am

Common Threads: Five Influential Women and their Legacies

Tuesday, December 23, 2014, 10:00 am

An Eisenhower Christmas

Tuesday, December 23, 2014, 10:00 am

Blow your own holiday ornament

Tuesday, December 23, 2014, 11:00 am

Christmas Crafts for Kids

Tuesday, December 23, 2014, 4:00 pm

The Polar Express

Tuesday, December 23, 2014, 5:00 pm
24

The Polar Express™

Wednesday, December 24, 2014, 6:00 pm

Fashions for Evergreens

Wednesday, December 24, 2014, 7:00 am

Common Threads: Five Influential Women and their Legacies

Wednesday, December 24, 2014, 10:00 am

An Eisenhower Christmas

Wednesday, December 24, 2014, 10:00 am

Blow your own holiday ornament

Wednesday, December 24, 2014, 11:00 am

Christmas Eve Hike

Wednesday, December 24, 2014, 2:00 pm

The Polar Express

Wednesday, December 24, 2014, 5:00 pm
25

Fashions for Evergreens

Thursday, December 25, 2014, 7:00 am

Common Threads: Five Influential Women and their Legacies

Thursday, December 25, 2014, 10:00 am

An Eisenhower Christmas

Thursday, December 25, 2014, 10:00 am

Blow your own holiday ornament

Thursday, December 25, 2014, 11:00 am

The Polar Express

Thursday, December 25, 2014, 5:00 pm
26

The Polar Express™

Friday, December 26, 2014, 6:00 pm

Fashions for Evergreens

Friday, December 26, 2014, 7:00 am

Common Threads: Five Influential Women and their Legacies

Friday, December 26, 2014, 10:00 am

An Eisenhower Christmas

Friday, December 26, 2014, 10:00 am

Blow your own holiday ornament

Friday, December 26, 2014, 11:00 am

Day After Christmas Eve Hike

Friday, December 26, 2014, 2:00 pm

The Polar Express

Friday, December 26, 2014, 5:00 pm
27

The Polar Express™

Saturday, December 27, 2014, 6:00 pm

Fashions for Evergreens

Saturday, December 27, 2014, 7:00 am

Winter Bird Hike

Saturday, December 27, 2014, 9:00 am

Common Threads: Five Influential Women and their Legacies

Saturday, December 27, 2014, 10:00 am

An Eisenhower Christmas

Saturday, December 27, 2014, 10:00 am

"Peter and The Wolf"

Saturday, December 27, 2014, 11:00 am

Blow your own holiday ornament

Saturday, December 27, 2014, 11:00 am

Orienteering Treasure Hunt

Saturday, December 27, 2014, 2:00 pm

The Polar Express

Saturday, December 27, 2014, 5:00 pm
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28

The Polar Express™

Sunday, December 28, 2014, 6:00 pm

Fashions for Evergreens

Sunday, December 28, 2014, 7:00 am

Common Threads: Five Influential Women and their Legacies

Sunday, December 28, 2014, 10:00 am

An Eisenhower Christmas

Sunday, December 28, 2014, 10:00 am

Blow your own holiday ornament

Sunday, December 28, 2014, 11:00 am

Informal Jam on the Porch

Sunday, December 28, 2014, 2:00 pm

The Polar Express

Sunday, December 28, 2014, 5:00 pm
29

The Polar Express™

Monday, December 29, 2014, 6:00 pm

Fashions for Evergreens

Monday, December 29, 2014, 7:00 am

Common Threads: Five Influential Women and their Legacies

Monday, December 29, 2014, 10:00 am

An Eisenhower Christmas

Monday, December 29, 2014, 10:00 am

The Polar Express

Monday, December 29, 2014, 5:00 pm
30

Fashions for Evergreens

Tuesday, December 30, 2014, 7:00 am

Common Threads: Five Influential Women and their Legacies

Tuesday, December 30, 2014, 10:00 am

An Eisenhower Christmas

Tuesday, December 30, 2014, 10:00 am

The Polar Express

Tuesday, December 30, 2014, 5:00 pm
31

New Year Celebration

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Fashions for Evergreens

Wednesday, December 31, 2014, 7:00 am

Common Threads: Five Influential Women and their Legacies

Wednesday, December 31, 2014, 10:00 am

An Eisenhower Christmas

Wednesday, December 31, 2014, 10:00 am

The Polar Express

Wednesday, December 31, 2014, 5:00 pm

New Year's Eve at Peaks of Otter Lodge

Wednesday, December 31, 2014, 8:00 pm

New Year's Eve Reception and Gala

Wednesday, December 31, 2014, 8:00 pm

Big Lick Countdown

Wednesday, December 31, 2014, 8:00 pm

New Year's Eve - Downtown Marion Celebration

Wednesday, December 31, 2014, 9:00 pm

New Year's Eve Celebration

Wednesday, December 31, 2014, 9:30 pm
     

Highlights & Happenings

  • Julian Price Memorial Park, MP 297
  • A majestic 4,200 acres at the foot of Grandfather Mountain, named in honor of Julian Price, comprises this popular park and lies directly adjacent to the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park. Together these parks make up the largest developed area set as
  • Cumberland Knob, MP 217.5
  • Located near the Virginia state line, Cumberland Knob is the site where construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway began in 1935. It was the first recreation area opened to the public and remains a favorite destination for both locals and visitors. The m
  • Moses H. Cone Park, MP 294
  • A majestic 4,200 acres at the foot of Grandfather Mountain, named in honor of Julian Price, lies directly adjacent to the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park. Together these parks comprise the largest developed area set aside for public recreati
  • Craggy Gardens, MP 364
  • These high elevation summits are home to spectacular floral displays. June and July are usually prime times to view the pink and purple blooms of rhododendron, but don’t despair if you miss the peak bloom. Violets, blackberry, May-apple, a
  • Waterrock Knob, MP 451.2
  • An ideal spot for watching sunrise and sunsets across the rugged mountains, Waterrock Knob Visitor Center sits at almost 6,000 feet elevation. Exhibits, book sales, and a trail leading to the summit of Waterrock Knob await visitors. The last hik
  • Mount Pisgah, MP 408
  • Mount Pisgah’s spectacular views, hiking trails, camping and the Mount Pisgah Inn make this area a popular destination for visitors along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The mountain and thousands of surrounding acres was originally purchased by indust
  • James River & Otter Creek, MP 60-63.8
  • At the lowest elevation along the Parkway, visitors can hike, camp, fish, have a picnic, and see restored Battery Creek Lock from the Kanawha Canal.
  • Fall Color - Tips for Leaf Season
  • Tips for planning your scenic drive or vacation to see the fall color along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • Hiking Trails
  • A journey on the Blue Ridge Parkway offers motorists spectacular views of Southern Appalachia’s diverse beauty for 469.1 uninterrupted miles.
  • Camping
  • Camping is one way visitors traveling through the Blue Ridge Parkway can spend the night under the stars in one of America’s most beautiful natural settings.
  • Nearby Accommodations
  • Explore the quaint towns and vibrant cities that the Blue Ridge Parkway weaves through, and a variety of lodging choices.
  • Parkway Road Conditions
  • An open Parkway is a safe Parkway. Be sure to check road conditions online or by phone before you travel and during your visit.
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